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Advertising division: ER-C - Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons
Reference number: D083/2018, Chemistry, material sciences

Master Thesis: Synthesis of bimetallic, shaped nanoparticles as model catalysts for electrochemical reactions

In catalysis, especially electrocatalysis, properties such as the shape of the active particles and their surface composition play an important role. For example, the activity towards the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) could be improved by a factor of 40 by switching from spherical platinum particles to PtNi based octahedra. Furthermore, the composition of the products obtained during the electrochemical CO2 reduction depends strongly on the composition of the catalyst material and its shape.

For the ORR, PtNi based octahedra supported on carbon black show the highest activity. By a solvothermal synthesis, platinum and nickel precursors are reduced forming the desired octahedral particle shape. Unfortunately, during the particle formation a segregation of the two elements occurs leading to an enrichment of nickel on the active surface. Over time, the less noble nickel is leeched out causing a diminishment of the catalyst activity. From this observation one can infer that the dissolution of nickel has to be hindered, e.g. by a protective mono layer consisting of the noble metal platinum.

Your task
The main goal of this thesis will be the synthesis of transition metal based octahedral nanoparticles and the analysis of their electrochemical properties. After being trained to use electrochemical equipment, the candidate will employ standard electrochemical evaluation techniques and accelerated aging protocols on the synthesized catalyst.

Tasks that should be dealt with in the thesis:

  • Literature research on the reaction mechanisms of the oxygen reduction reaction and state of the art catalyst synthesis techniques.
  • Synthesis of transition metal based catalysts.
  • Physicochemical and electrochemical analysis of the synthesized catalyst.

Your profile

  • Very good academic records in chemistry or material sciences.
  • Basic knowledge of electrochemistry.
  • Good experimental skills.
  • High individual motivation

Contact person:
Dr. Paul Paciok
Forschungszentrum Jülich
Ernst Ruska-Centre